Bransome Burbridge's World War II medals sold to pay for care

Wing Cdr Burbridge's war meals The decorated pilot's medals include the DSO and DFC

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The medals awarded to a distinguished World War II pilot from Hertfordshire are to be auctioned off by his family to pay for his care home bills.

Wing Cdr Bransome "Branse" Burbridge, 92, from Chorleywood, brought down 21 enemy aircraft during the conflict.

Mr Burbridge now lives with Alzheimer's and requires specialist care.

The medals and other memorabilia owned by Mr Burbridge have been valued up to £120,000. They will be be auctioned by Dix Noonan Webb on 26 March.

Mr Burbridge was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross.

His son, Paul, 59, from York, said it was a "reluctant" decision to sell the medals, logbook, leather flying jacket and other items.

Wing Cdr Burbridge during the war Wing Cdr Burbridge flew out of Hertfordshire with 85 Squadron

He added: "There is an appropriateness about the sale taking place while he is still alive, as it will be of immediate benefit to the person whose bravery and commitment earned these decorations in the first place."

London-born Mr Burbridge signed up for the RAF shortly after turning 20 in February 1941 and was later posted to 85 Squadron as a night-fighter pilot.

'Valuable' stories

During the war he shot down four German planes in a single sortie and saved countless lives by bringing down three of Hitler's V1 flying bombs before they hit residential parts of London.

However, he initially registered as a conscientious objector and always aimed for the wings of enemy planes to give his foe the greatest chance of survival.

After the war, he studied theology at Oxford and became a lay preacher. He was married to Barbara, who died last year.

"We're comfortable with the decision we've made and we'd be slightly embarrassed by offers from people trying to raise money for him, as kind as that is, because there are people out there who need it more," said Paul Burbridge.

He added: "We think this is the right thing to do because the stories attached to what he did are far more valuable to us than the medals he got from them. Dad would definitely want us to do this.

"In a way we're lucky we have these assets which the public does put a value on."

Sketch of Douglas Havoc The sale includes Mr Burbridge's sketch of his early steed - the Douglas Havoc

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